play_circle_filled In progress

Economy Economy

Expand the farming industry

Last updated: 03:28pm 8 December 2019

We have huge ambitions for our farming industry: we are determined to grow more, sell more and export more great British food.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.25

Our verdict

In 2017, the UK was the largest producer of goat and sheep meat in the EU, and the third largest producer of wheat, milk, beef and veal. Over the last decade, the agri-food sector has been relatively stable, employing around 13% of all employees, accounting for approximately 50% of food consumed in the UK, and making up 6% of all UK exports. However, according to the National Audit Office (NAO), between 2014 and 2017, 42% of farmers would have made a loss  if they had not received direct payments under the Common Agriultural Policy. In that context, this policy promised to grow, sell and export more food.

In July 2017, the government launched the Countryside Productivity SchemeRenewed in 2019, it has provided a total of £37 million in grants for farmers to invest in new and innovative equipment.

In late 2018, the government introduced the Agriculture Bill, to make provisions including changes to direct payments upon exiting the EU, and recognising associations of agricultural producers so they may benefit from exemptions from competition law. However, the bill did not pass before the end of the government’s term of office.

In August 2019, the government published the document Future farming: changes to farming in England, to explain how farming policy would change upon leaving the EU. Plans include phasing out direct payments, disconnecting funding from an obligation to farm the land, publishing new regulations and funding all projects under the Rural Development Programme until 2020. An NAO review recommended the strategy would benefit from “realistic timescales” and larger pilot schemes.

The government is providing funding for innovation in farming while setting out a new framework for agricultural policy upon leaving the EU. However, under this administration there has been no significant growth in the agri-food sector. At the end of its term of office, this policy remains ‘in progress’.

Expand your database of details!

There's always room for debate

We’re serious about providing clear, up-to-date, non-partisan information. We focus on being consistent and fair in how we reach our verdicts, and always explain our reasoning. But there is always room for debate. So if you see it differently, we’d love you to tell us why. Or even better, submit an edit.